Tom Whalen Poop 08

Top 25 favorites from the year proper

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1 Earth – The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (Southern Lord)
2 James Blackshaw – Litany of Echoes (Tomkins Square)
3 Grails – Doomsdayer’s Holiday / Take Refuge in Clean Living EP (Temporary Residence/Important)
[2008 was the first year since I was in high school that I devoured more past music than current jams (see below). Unenthused by the sterile, finished-off hype-pop that has f(l)attened most year end round-ups (Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes, MGMT,) the 08 tunes that I pulled me in the hardest were vast and wordless, repeat-all playable, perfect for reading and brooding.]

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4 Evangelicals – The Evening Descends (Dead Oceans)
5 Parts & Labor – Receivers (Jagjaguwar/Brah)
6 Grouper – Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill (Type)
[I do love me some pop songs. Grouper, P&L, and Evangelicals put out records with hooks to burn but, rather than putting them down straight, coated their jams with chasers of drone, electronics and psych-otics. Gorgeous, anthemic, mildly deranged, and exhilarating.]

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7 The Hold Steady – Stay Positive (Vagrant)
[ No duh. As my good friend and fellow Steady head Heidi Vanderlee observed, this album’s title is the answer to its content. The music is dark, eclectic and gutsy, while Finn’s lyrics mourn the erosion of hardcore’s promise of a “unified scene” and pine for a renewal of the spirit of hope and solidarity. If Mike Watt is right, and I’m sure he is, that punk rock is whatever you make it to be, then the Hold Steady have, somehow, made punk rock out of classic rock. Whoh-oh-oh!]

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8 Valet – Naked Acid (Kranky)
[ Deerhunter may have accosted the cool ear like no Kranky act since Godspeed You Black Emperor! dropped on the label, but it was this slice of gacked-out swamp spirituals that lingered in my lobes throughout a year that was otherwise light on transcendent Krank stuffs.]

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9 Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing (ATP)
10 Oneida – Preteen Weaponry (Jagjaguwar)
[ I have a problem with noise music that I’m sure is a common one among fans who aren’t complete fucking monsters: I find myself appreciating the music more than I find myself actively listening to it. No such beef with the debut Fuck Buttons LP: this sucker balances visceral power and sheer ear assault with teeth rotting melodics. I can’t wait to see where the duo take their sound from here. Even more stoke-worthy are the places Oneida are taking their peerless brand of mega-psych: word has it that Preteen Weaponry, a transfixing three part, 40 minute instrumental workout, is the first in a trio of releases; the next installment is alleged to be a TRIPLE ALBUM, due out not soon enough. Color me shit-panted.]

11 Kohoutek – Expansive Headache (Music Fellowship)
12 Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Lie Down in the Light (Drag City)
13 the No-Neck Blues Band – Clomeim (Locust)
14 Brightblack Morning Light – Motion to Rejoin (Matador)
15 Strategy – Music for Lamping (Audio Dregs)
16 Motorpsycho – Little Lucid Moments (Rune Grammofon)
17 Sun Kil Moon – April (Caldo Verde)
18 Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride (4AD)
19 Fennesz – Black Sea (Touch)
20 Flying Lotus – Los Angeles (Warp)
21 Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid – NYC (Domino)
22 Bohren and der Club of Gore – Dolores (PIAS/Ipecac)
23 Koen Heeltap – Field Rituals (Type)
24 Fucked Up – The Chemisty of Common Life (Matador)
25 Ballboy – I Worked on the Ships (Pony Proof)

15 dusted off, re-discovered, and otherwise new favorites from my 2008

“The only thing that’s new is you finding out about it” – Watt
Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime
Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops
Ballboy – A Guide for the Daylight Hours
Phil Ochs – Rehearsal for Retirement
Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele
Gza/Genius – Liquid Swords
Raekwon – Only Built for Cuban Linx
ES- Sateenkaarisuudelma
The Misfits – Collection I
Oval – 94 Diskont
Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts of the Great Highway
Boredoms – Pop Tatari
Comets on Fire – Field Recordings from the Sun

I spent the entirety of 2008 away from school; this was the first year in my living memory that this was the case. At first I cherished the down time, but soon found it more overwhelming than the responsibilities that spooked me out of academia in the first place. I’m back in school and happily so, hence the lack of time to get stoned and scrawl inane comments, as per last year. Of course, of course, of course: throughout, music persisted, fascinated, and at times seemed more vital and urgent than anything else. Over the summer I had a punk renaissance, and then a hip hop renaissance, both long overdue. More specific obsessions include Wu-Tang Clan, Misfits, Stars of the Lid, Van Morrison, Minutemen and Mike Watt, Grouper, Boredoms, J.G. Ballard, Lester Bangs, Simon Reynolds, Don Dellilo, Matt Taibbi, the Da Capo best music writing series, The Wire (the HBO drama and the British music magazine,) Mr. Show, Twin Peaks, X-Files, election coverage, and, of course, the Obama problem.

All said and done: what a year. Here’s to another one, whether we like it or not. tw